Join Us

Sign up to join a global movement of people fighting inequality to end poverty and injustice.

By submitting above you agree to the Oxfam America privacy policy.

Thank you for joining!

Want us to keep you updated by text message? Provide us with your mobile phone number.

By submitting above you agree to the Oxfam America privacy policy.

Welcome to our community!

We’ll provide you with information and tools you need to build a more equal future–for everyone.

Close

Sign up to join a global movement of people fighting inequality to end poverty and injustice.

We can do this.

The story of our future starts with you. Let’s fight inequality together to end poverty and injustice—sign up for our emails today.

Thank you for joining

Want us to keep you updated by text message? Provide us with your mobile phone number.

Please enter a valid mobile phone number

Welcome to our community

We’ll provide you with information and tools you need to take on the injustice of poverty.

iStock-1264076515.jpg

US Workers' Rights

Working families deserve dignified, green jobs with good pay, safe working conditions, the right to organize and speak out, and paid leave for all.

For decades, workers in the US have been fighting for their rights, demanding real change, and struggling to stay afloat. The federal minimum wage has been stuck at poverty level for 12 years, and as a result, working families are forced to walk a tightrope—often stitching together multiple jobs on unpredictable schedules, with scant access to healthcare or paid leave.

That’s just not right. Workers deserve to be heard and treated fairly by their employers, and their rights to organize must be protected.

Oxfam’s mission is to fight inequality to end poverty and injustice. That's why we amplify the voices of low wage workers, hold corporations accountable, stand in solidarity with unions and allies, and advocate for transformative legislation protecting and expanding workers' rights at all levels.


What are workers’ rights?

Millions of people today work in jobs that pay shockingly low wages, provide scant benefits, impose irregular schedules, offer unsafe conditions, and abuse their rights to stand up and speak out. In essence, these workers are denied the basic right to “decent work."

Not coincidentally, they are also among those who have historically had to struggle for their rights—disproportionately women, people of color, immigrants, and refugees. These people are working harder and longer than ever—falling behind, and losing hope.

That’s why Oxfam is fighting for workers’ rights: decent wages, safeguards for workers’ health and safety, pathways to advancement, and a voice in the workplace.

Evelyn (pseudonym) walks to work at a poultry plant in Morgantown, North Carolina.
Evelyn (pseudonym) walks to work at a poultry plant in Morgantown, North Carolina. Photo: Mary Babic/Oxfam

An agenda for working families

For years, we have fiercely advocated for working families on Capitol Hill.

For nearly a decade, we’ve championed the need for an increase in the federal minimum wage and the tipped minimum wage. The federal wage has not been raised from the poverty wage of $7.25 an hour since 2009. The tipped minimum wage—the base pay for someone who receives a substantial portion of their wages from tips—has been stuck at just $2.13 for 30 years. We’ve also advocated for a federal mandate for paid leave, safe workplaces, and more.

Poultry workers rallied outside the annual meeting of the National Chicken Council in Washington, DC last November. While the workers held signs directed at poultry executives, they also made their own signs to express appreciation to people who’d taken action to advocate for workers’ rights.
Poultry workers rally outside the annual meeting of the National Chicken Council in Washington, DC. While the workers held signs directed at poultry executives, they also made their own signs to express appreciation to people who’d taken action to advocate for workers’ rights. Photo: Coco McCabe / Oxfam America Photo: Coco McCabe / Oxfam America

Poultry worker justice campaign

In 2015, Oxfam America launched a campaign to expose the human cost of the modern poultry industry. Poultry workers in the US suffer extremely high rates of injury, earn poverty level wages, and work in a climate of fear.

Our work

  • Our report that launched the campaign, Lives on the Line, examines the hazardous plant conditions that lead to elevated rates of illness and injuries, as well as exposes industry practices designed to discourage workers from reporting violations and prevent organizing.
  • The subsequent report, No Relief, exposes the routine denial of bathroom breaks on the poultry processing line, and the lengths to which workers go to cope.
  • Oxfam’s awareness campaign tells the stories of workers and advocates.
May Day 2021
May Day 2021 Sandra Stowe/Oxfam America

Workers and COVID-19

COVID-19 has worsened many of the problems facing workers, and they are feeling the anxiety acutely, while employers are taking advantage of the precarity. Wages are stagnant as CEO pay is up; workers face uncertain schedules, scant benefits, and workplace hazards. Workers on the frontline are still in danger of contracting COVID-19 at the same time that they have little savings, few benefits, and limited access to advantages such as private cars, adequate housing, and robust healthcare. It’s more important than ever that we fight for the rights and safety of workers.

None
Graphic: Oxfam

Best and Worst States to Work

In 2018, Oxfam decided it was time to survey the states across the country and to catalog the many policies that have a dramatic effect on workers’ lives. The result is our annual Best States to Work Index (BSWI), which scores the states and ranks them from best to worst. This index assesses the landscape of labor laws at the state level and ranks the states based on compensation and conditions facing workers. Visit the most recent interactive map of the index.

Farmworker rights

Farm labor remains among the most unhealthy and underpaid occupations in the US, with a largely immigrant workforce that has been marginalized and exploited for decades. Oxfam has worked with organizations advocating for farmworkers in the US, supporting efforts to improve working and living conditions, raise wages, win the right to organize, and raise the voices of the workers themselves.

Our work

  • Oxfam’s Behind the Brands campaign challenges some of the largest food and beverage companies to improve their social and environmental policies. The campaign aims to provide people who buy and enjoy these products with the information they need to hold US companies accountable for what happens in their supply chains. To date, our supporters have taken over 700,000 actions to tell companies to clean up their supply chains and create better conditions for workers.
  • Oxfam worked with actors from all points in the food chain to create and incubate an initiative that has the potential to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of farmworkers. The Equitable Food Initiative(EFI) brings together stakeholders across the produce supply chain to build a set of fair and verifiable standards for a certification system.
  • Oxfam has supported campaigns by groups such as the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) to rally support for farmworkers’ human rights. Our joint report, State of Fear, identified the inhumane conditions facing farmworkers in the tobacco fields in North Carolina.
A store cashier wears protective gear as she rings up groceries. All states have work to do when it comes to protecting essential workers.
A store cashier wears protective gear as she rings up groceries. All states have work to do when it comes to protecting essential workers. Photo: Shutterstock

Challenges facing working women

While working women in the US have made tremendous strides, they still face a myriad of problems in the workplace and the home that often result in lower incomes, longer hours, fewer opportunities, and increased risk of harassment and abuse. Oxfam is fighting to protect the rights of women in the workplace no matter what kind of job they hold.

Our work

  • Undervalued and Underpaid in America takes a hard look at gender segregation in the labor market and explores characteristics of the low-wage jobs where women are concentrated.
  • Working in Fear, a literature review of sexual violence against women farmworkers in the US, reveals that the tremendous power imbalance in the agriculture industry creates an atmosphere where sexual violence is common.
  • Women on the Line points a gender lens at conditions facing women on the poultry processing line.

Stories and updates

Oxfam.org Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Google+